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After America, by Mark Steyn

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

Mark Steyn is too conservative for me. Or, is it that I’m too liberal for Mark Steyn?

I’m reading his new book, After America: Get Ready for Armageddon, and although he mocks and critiques many things that I think are crucial, I’m enjoying the experience of having views to which I don’t subscribe spelled out in a cogent and articulate way. Steyn is an uncommon combination of erudite and cheeky, and I find myself smirking, even when I disagree with him.

When I picked up the book and saw that its back cover has a glowing endorsement from Ann Coulter (insert gagging noise here) I was sure that I should just put the book down and move on. But the amateur philosopher in me knows that in order to understand my own views, I need to understand others’ views, too. I need to listen to the people who differ from me, in order to gain a better and more nuanced understanding of the views that I do hold.

So, dear reader, I encourage you to select a book whose author you don’t like, appreciate or understand. Challenge yourself to read both sides of a debate.

We’ve got books about all the contentious stuff: politics, religion, sex, war, and so on. Ask our librarians for a recommendation!

Bossypants, by Tina Fey

by Katherine - 2 Comment(s)

I tore through this autobiography in a matter of days, and I relished it! If you love Tina Fey’s work as a sketch and sitcom writer, you’ll find her prose equally amusing.

In Bossypants, Fey comments on her childhood, her early years as a writer for SNL, the importance of her relationship with her father, and even the unmentionable topic – that scar on her face.

It’s been a very long time since a book made me laugh out loud (repeatedly) on the train, but this book made me do just that. I looked like a total psycho, but it was worth it.

What I really appreciated as I read this book was Fey’s attitude. Improv classes taught her the value of saying yes within a scene and that’s a lesson we can all apply in our daily lives, as well. I also appreciated her comments about what she learned from Lorne Michaels, and what she hopes for her own daughter. Fey is gay positive and body positive (except when she’s mocking herself) and with this book, she’s proven that she’s much more than just a funny one-liner or a Sarah Palin impersonator (although she excels at that, too!).

If you need a really good laugh, then check out Bossypants today!

The Look

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

I just bought a new pair of glasses. I love the ones that I had previously (purple cat’s eye, with orange accents), but I decided that I wanted to update my look to something a bit edgier. I’ve still kept the cat’s eye shape, but now I’m rocking bright teal with purple-y silver flecked highlights. They’re wicked, if I do say so myself.

When I catch myself checking out other people’s glasses, I’m always drawn to ones that are large, bold, and in an offbeat colour. Folks who wear such glasses are, I think, to be commended for their confidence. After all, if you're going to wear glasses, then wear glasses! And now that I’m armed with new frames, I’m feeling more confident than usual. Which is probably why I picked up a book that might not ordinarily appeal to me:

Style Yourself: Inspired Advice from the World’s Top Fashion Bloggers

Style Yourself is full of information (you do know the difference between a loafer and a brogue, don’t you?) and inspiration about everything from clothing and shoes to accessories. Learn to make your outfits pop, by playing up the contrasts in the colour wheel, and find ideas for turning one simple item – like a scarf – into a multitasking garment. Best of all, Style Yourself’s contributors are some of the world’s most popular fashion bloggers. They’ve all got distinct views and styles, but what they share in common is a love of style, and a passion for uniqueness. My personal favourites are Tavi Gevinson of Style Rookie and Funeka Ngwevela of Quirky Stylista.

Some of the looks are strange, to be sure. But my verdict is this: life’s too short not to pair zebra with tartan. Or tie-dye.

Pants on Fire!

by Katherine - 1 Comment(s)

Recently, during a time of great turbulence and tumult, I found myself morphing into a liar. And a pretty deft one, at that. I lied to my ex about my new boyfriend, and I lied to my new boyfriend about my ex. I lied to my family about both of them, and I lied to myself about how long this house of cards could continue to stand. I lied to my friends, too, whether that meant strategically omitting details, or fabricating new ones.

When a friend’s simple observation (“It’s just easier to tell the truth”) finally sunk in, I began to unravel my knotted web, and to start acting with integrity and honesty. And I feel a whole lot better. But interestingly enough, I had dinner with that same ex last night, and he’s now lying to his current girlfriend about me! Where does it end?

The truth (I promise!) is that we lie for many different reasons. We lie to protect our or others’ feelings, to maintain an image or reputation, and because sometimes it’s the path of least resistance.

Looking for more about lies, lying, and liars? Here’s a list, to get you started:

Out of Character book coverOut of Character: Surprising Truths about the Liar, Cheat, Sinner (and Saint) Lurking in all of us, by David DeSteno

The Liar in your Life: the Way to Truthful Relationships, by Robert S. Feldman

How to Spot a Liar: Why People don't Tell the Truth... and How you Can Catch Them, by Gregory Hartley

When Your Lover is a Liar: Healing the Wounds of Deception and Betrayal, by Susan Forward

To be Perfectly Honest: One Man's Year of Living Almost Truthfully Could Change your Life - No Lie, by Phil Callaway

Through Thick and Thin, by Gok Wan

by Katherine - 1 Comment(s)

A number of years ago, when I lived at home and had access to television (oh, the things you take for granted!) I used to watch a British show called How to Look Good Naked. A self conscious woman (typically one who was disheveled and encased in horrendous, baggy clothing) would be put through a series of challenges, all designed to convince her that her body was beautiful, attractive and sexy – and that so was she! The show would culminate with the woman strutting down a catwalk in only her underwear – a testament to her newfound confidence and acceptance of her body. I loved it!

The host of the show was a stylist named Gok, who would help the woman select strategic wardrobe pieces – items that tucked, concealed, supported or disguised whichever body parts induced insecurity. Gok loved the clothes, but you knew that he loved the women more. In fact, he played the token “gay best friend” that every woman needs – supportive, hilarious, and committed to the idea that beauty comes in every size.

I’ve just finished reading Gok’s autobiography, Through Thick and Thin, and I really enjoyed it. Frankly, it’s a beach read. There’s nothing in here that’s profound or intellectually rigorous. Rather, it’s a nice light read for people who watched and loved the show, or for people who might be interested in how to break into the styling business.

Gok’s road to stardom wasn’t an easy one. He was obese and then anorexic; he worked several dissatisfying jobs before finding the one he loved, and he both made and lost friends along the way. Indeed, life wasn’t simple for a self-described “fat, gay Chinese kid”, yet Gok’s determination and the love of his family saw him though challenging times. This biography has an ultimately heartwarming tone.

Check it out if you need a nice, light read. Or if you’re interested in a career in fashion and styling. Or if you’re a fat, gay, Chinese kid. And especially if you’re struggling with body issues, and you just want to feel better.

Wheat Belly, by William Davis M.D.

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

While shopping on my supper break a few days ago, I proved Dr. William Davis right. Davis is the author of a contentious new book: Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find your Path Back to Health and he claims that cutting wheat out of your diet might allow you to lose several pounds within the first few weeks. Does it sound too good to be true? Sure. But thus far, it’s working for me. Eleven days without wheat and already my clothes are a bit looser. I could barely contain my grin, when I heard myself asking if I could get that skirt one smaller size. YES!

I don’t know if I’m under the blissful influence of the placebo effect or not, but I really do feel lighter, energetic, and increasingly more clear-headed. I think I’ll keep it up!

Your Calgary Public Library branch contains lots of diet books; not all of them advise you to eschew wheat, but nearly every one will tell you to limit “white foods”: sugars, breads, snack foods and other miscellaneous refined and processed products. Essentially, you should give up the food that’s not really food. Give it a try and see how you feel!

Our e-library contains comprehensive and reputable health and wellness information and we’ve got a great range of exercise DVDs and diet books, too. And check out our program guide for programs on health and nutrition.

By the way, Dr. Davis was interviewed recently in McLean's magazine. If you missed it, you can find the article in our e-library database Canadian Newsstand. Not sure how to access it? Call us at (403) 260-2782, or head to our homepage and strike up a chat! We're happy to give you instructions!

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